Home prices fell in December to the lowest levels since the housing crisis began in mid-2006, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index. While other housing statistics certainly suggest that a recovery may be underway, home prices and foreclosures continue to point to a struggling market.
Trulia, an online real estate search and marketing site, recently published its Housing Misery Index. The index ranks each state’s housing market by the change in home price and the rate of delinquencies and foreclosures. Looking at housing and economic data from a number of sources, 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of Trulia’s index finds that the states with worst scores suffer from many of the same problems.
The Housing Misery Index shows the clear impact of the housing market bust on local economies and individual homeowners. The drop in home prices captures the impact on household wealth and consumer spending, Trulia’s chief economist, Jed Kolko, told 24/7 Wall St. in an interview. Meanwhile, delinquencies and foreclosures reflect the number of residents struggling to keep their homes. “Bigger price declines plus more delinquencies and foreclosures equal greater misery,” Kolko says.
Most of the states with the worst housing misery scores are also ones that experienced some of the greatest home construction booms during the first half of the decade. When the market collapsed, states such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida and California became flooded with large inventories of unsold homes and high vacancy rates. According to Kolko, “These states had the most overbuilding during the bubble, and those empty homes have caused prices to fall and are still keeping prices low.”
Not all of the states with the highest housing scores are suffering from overbuilding during the housing boom. For some, the scores simply reflect permanently weakened home demand that is the result of decades-long industrial decline. In Michigan, for example, home prices have dropped as critical industries, including auto and chemicals, have substantially contracted their operations in the state. The persistent lack of demand for housing simply was made even worse by the nationwide recession.
In many of the worst-off states, demand is finally on the rise. States like Florida, Arizona and Nevada, which suffered during the housing bust, still appeal to many buyers. These states “are still top retirement destinations and are now more affordable than they have been in years. Low prices will attract people to these areas longer-term as those markets return to normal,” Trulia’s chief economist says.
Of course, for states where the housing collapse was not the result of overbuilding, as is the case for Michigan and Rhode Island, the long-term outlook is not as good. Although home prices are at bargain prices in these states, a meaningful increase in new home buyers is missing. These local economies are suffering from long-term problems that likely will continue after the national housing market has recovered.
These are the 10 states with the most miserable housing markets.
> Housing misery index: 31.6
> Home price decline from peak: 23.7% (12th largest decrease)
> Projected home price change (Q3 2011 – Q3 2012): -2.4% (14th largest decrease)
> Unemployment (Dec. 2011): 6.7% (15th lowest)
Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country in terms of median household income. It also happens to have the third-lowest poverty rate in the country. Despite this relative wealth, the state’s housing market has suffered from a number of problems. Since their peak, home prices in Maryland have dropped 23.7% — the 12th largest decrease in the nation. Home prices are projected to continue to fall through the third quarter of this year. However, from that quarter through the third quarter of 2013, home prices are expected to turn around, increasing 4.4%.
> Housing misery index: 32.8
> Home price decline from peak: 26.6% (8th largest decrease)
> Projected home price change (Q3 2011 – Q3 2012): +0.4% (16th smallest increase)
> Unemployment (Dec. 2011): 8.5% (17th highest)
Since their prerecession peak in the third quarter of 2007, home prices have fallen 26.6% in Washington. This is the eighth-largest drop from peak in the country. In 2011, relatively few homes were in foreclosure in the state, standing at 1.3% of the total market. By the third quarter of this year, home prices are projected to increase just 0.4%, one of the smallest increases in the country. However, the following year, the market will finally begin to rebound in the state. Fiserv estimates home values will increase by nearly 10% between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013.
> Housing misery index: 34.0
> Home price decline from peak: 26.0% (10th largest decrease)
> Projected home price change (Q3 2011 – Q3 2012): -1.7% (16th largest decrease)
> Unemployment (Dec. 2011): 9.7% (8th highest)
Georgia had the fifth-highest rate of foreclosures at the end of 2011, and homes on which owners were delinquent 90 days or more on mortgage payments in the country at 8%. Georgia’s home prices also have fallen 26% since their peak — the 10th-largest drop. This, combined with the fact that home prices are expected to drop by another 1.7% by the third quarter of this year, has caused construction to remain particularly low in many areas. For example, in Atlanta, the state’s largest city, construction continued at less than one-fifth of prehousing bust levels in January of this year, according to Trulia.
7. Rhode Island
> Housing misery index: 34.5
> Home price decline from peak: 27.0% (7th largest decrease)
> Projected home price change (Q3 2011 – Q3 2012): -0.5% (23rd largest decrease)
> Unemployment (Dec. 2011): 10.8% (3rd highest)
Like Michigan, Rhode Island’s economy has continued to suffer from long-term problems, and residents seem to agree. According to Gallup’s Job Creation poll, fewer employers are hiring in the state than anywhere else in the country at the moment. According to a separate Economic Confidence Poll created by Gallup, just 5.4% of those polled in Rhode Island believe the U.S. economy is in good or excellent shape. From their peak in the second quarter of 2006, home values in the state have fallen 27%, the seventh-biggest decline from peak in the country. Median income is above-average in Rhode Island, but unemployment is at 10.8%, the third-highest rate in the country. According to Fiserv, home values in the state are expected to recover at a rate of just 2.5% per year by the end of 2016, the ninth-lowest rate in the country.
> Housing misery index: 34.5
> Home price decline from peak: 29.3% (6th largest decrease)
> Projected home price change (Q3 2011 – Q3 2012): +4.9% (the largest increase)
> Unemployment (Dec. 2011): 8.4% (18th highest)
Home prices in Idaho did not begin to significantly drop until 2008. From the third quarter of that year through the third quarter of 2011, home prices fell 29.3%, the third-largest peak-to-current decline in the country. From the third quarter of 2010, prices have dropped 8.3%, the second-largest amount. However, the state is forecast to make an exceptional turnaround. By the third quarter of 2012, home prices are projected to recover by 4.9%. Over the next five years, prices are expected to increase by 7% — the largest increase in the country.
> Housing misery index: 36.6
> Home price decline from peak: 30.1% (5th largest decrease)
> Projected home price change (Q3 2011 – Q3 2012): -7.0% (4th largest decrease)
> Unemployment (Dec. 2011): 9.3% (10th highest)
During the housing boom, Michigan did not experience a period of rapid industrial growth and home construction. But instead of escaping the worst of the housing boom and bust, Michigan’s home prices and general economy continued to worsen during the second half of the decade along with the rest of the country. From peak value in the third quarter of 2005, home values in Michigan have fallen 30.1%. Additionally, unemployment is 9.3%, the 10th highest rate in the U.S.